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Faced with a growing shortage of unskilled labor and sudden increases in food prices. Yale University has drastically reorganized its dining halls and kitchen, it was learned yesterday.
The University Commons, Yale Freshman dining hall which formerly operated on a basis similar to that of the Harvard Union, has been returned to a cafeteria, self-service system, and undergraduate bus boys and waiters, formerly hired by the Commons, are now being employed in Yale's ten residential colleges.
Against Harkness' Will
This is the first time since the inception of the college plan that student help is being used in the college dining halls. The tradition shattering step came in contravention of the will of Edward S. Harkness, endower of the Harvard houses and the Yale colleges, who provided that his gifts should not go towards the employment of student help in the kitchens or dining halls.
"Faced with the urgent necessity of opening the dining halls with the return of students and a shortage of help which may amount to as much as one-third of the normal dining hall complement, the University reached an agreement between Malcolm Aldrich and Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, representing the Harkness estate to suspend the old system during the current emergency." The Yale News reported.
Economics Offset Price Rise
The introduction of student waiting in the colleges and of the self-service system in the Commons came as economies to offset the price rise and particularly the growing cost of labor.
"Early last Spring," the Yale News said, "high wages in New Haven's several defense plants began to drain the regular help from the college dining halls, and this fall the local shortage has become so acute that even a wage increase would not provide the necessary labor supply."
To add to her dining hall headaches, Yale is at present threatened by a walkout of most of its employees. During the summer months the United Construction Workers Union, a C. I. O. outfit representing 400 of Yale employees, presented Eli officials with demands for collective bargaining and closed shop to govern wages, hours, and conditions of employment.
On September 10 the union voted unanimously to strike if they did not have counter-proposals, another conference between Yale and union officials has been scheduled, and every source indicates that an agreement will be worked out before the strike deadline arrives.
Expressing its demands in the form of a proposed contract to cover the grievances of the Yale employees as voiced prior to their unionization, the union is now seeking employee coverage by social security and employment insurance, and a closed shop, seniority rights, and the checkoff.
When the contract was submitted the University refused to sign "the kind of contract submitted" because it covered all of Yale's employees, 2,800 odd employees, while the Union at that time claimed only a membership of 160.
The Union has greatly increased its membership and now claims 100 percent enrollment in the power house and service bureau employees; 95 percent of the force of resident janitors, and about 60 per cent of the maids. The Union is now conducting a campaign to enroll the dining hall force.
Simultaneously with the C. I. O. drive for members, the A. F. of L. is also looking for plums in Yale's employment system. "The A. F. of L. has key people in every department, but we are not anxious to rush into print with headlines," a union official told the News.
Although the labor disputes were not given as reasons for the reorganization of Yale's dining halls and kitchens, they probably helped to precipitate the decision to change things.
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